Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “faith”

‘Tis God Who Has Made Me

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

It is the Lord who created me, it is the Lord who gave me life, that I could be His servant. That He might be my Joy.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7

God has created me, He has given all I need:

One spirit.

That I may communicate with Him.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

One mind.

That I may contemplate on God’s message, what is true and good.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

One mouth.

That I may speak words of comfort and peace, the Good News of Salvation and sing praise to His Holy Name.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Two eyes.

That I might read God’s word and know His direction for me.
“For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.” Proverbs 5:21
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22
“Jesus is the focus of the eyes of faith. “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Two ears.

That I may hear the word of the Lord and my faith be renewed and strengthened each day.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Two feet and Two hands.

That I may do the work of the Lord our God.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 7:21

One heart.

That I may love the Lord my God and show His love to all He introduces, where all He leads.
“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 23,24

Breathe On Me Breath Of God

Words by: Edwin Hatch, 1878

Cross on Bible

Cross on Bible

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

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Oh No, More Snow, Again

Got up this morning, let the dog out and there it was. A “freshly fallen silent shroud of snow”.
I have always remembered that line. A perfect example of alliteration. Beautifully written to capture the very essence of a quiet Sunday morning after a snowfall. Written by Paul Simon for a song called “I Am A Rock”.

After enduring quite a long winter this year we in Northern Alberta haven’t seen the ground or grass for over three months now. During the past week, the winds have blown pine needles and other debris over the surface of the snow making it quite an ugly sight. Now, a fresh inch of snow has fallen and the landscape is clean again. Pure white, a symbol of Christ. The morning sun has poked through the clouds and the rolling mounds in the fields next door are really beautiful. Praise the Lord for small blessings.

Lyrics; I Am A Rock

Lyrics; I Am A Rock

I know little about Paul Simon, the author of the poem and he has never explained the meanings behind these lyrics. Like all good poets, he has left the interpretation to the reader. Many see a darkness here, prospects of loneliness, of suicide, of shutting out the world. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps it is about pining over lost love or opportunity. There are countless people we encounter every day who are trying to shut out the world and life. They are hurting, they are lost. They see only the dark side of life They are in need of a Savior.

OK Paul Simon, you left the interpretation to the reader, here’s mine:

I have my books
(The collection of books known as the Holy Bible. I have access to the truth and I am free.)
And my poetry to protect me;
(Poetry is harmony, there is harmony in a life with others in Christ)
I am shielded in my armor,
(The best shield we can don is the armor of God)
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
(We are hidden in Christ’s Temple room, safe, but ready for a rebirth from this womb into a whole new life and work each and everyday.)
I touch no one and no one touches me.
( I can reach out to the one in need, but I need not come into contact with his demons. They can’t touch me, I am Christ’s)
I am a rock, I am an island.
(Jesus has told us all, “I am the Rock of your Salvation, the safe island in the storms of life.)
And a rock feels no pain;
(Jesus is our healer, He has taken all our pain.)
And an island never cries.
( In God our tears shall reap in joy, our mourning shall be changed into dancing)


Upon being met with a fresh snowfall some may say, “Oh No, More Snow, Again.” But, in every turn, in every season, there is a reason, an underlying beauty to all God has given and created. Give thanks and enjoy for the Lord is Good.

Where Can We Run To?

“You can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what you are confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) paraphrased

It matters not what social group you belong to or frequent, be it church, sports club, charity foundation, school, whichever, if you are making meaningful or personal relationships you are coming into contact with people with problems. Most people are seeking a confidant with whom to confide in or to relate their problems to. They are in need of help. Not all social groups are able to, are willing to, nor can they, have the resources to mentor every problem that face today’s society. There is only one social grouping which can, or should be able, the Church, the agent for Christ.

There may be a few mega-churches that have the resources and ministries to directly handle near all societal problems, but that is not the norm. Most churches are of the under 500 member size. Is it unrealistic for smaller Churches to be the end all mentor? The main jobs or purpose of the Church is to worship Christ, to bring souls to Christ and disciple the members in Christ.

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

We are not left shocked and tongue tied

Within those three disciplines of the Church though, will lay all the problems society faces. The marital problems, the family upheavals, persons with disabilities, drug and alcohol abuse, money management, sickness, care of the dying, bullying, home assistance, income assistance, to categorize several. A Church who are evengelizing, bringing souls to Christ, and is discipling the members will have to face and mentor to these needs. The only way for the Church to avoid these problems is, do not evangelize, do not disciple. But then, are they truly in Christ?

No Church should expect the pastor to mentor or handle these incidences, challenges or cases on his own, although many a pastor is left to do so. Peoples struggles and difficulties and circumstances and various needs is why the Church has lay ministries and Spirit lead talents and gifts within each member of the congregation. That we may minister to each other as the Holy Spirit leads us so to do.

A local church will not, dare I say, cannot grow without the members exercising the ministry of of each of these gifts and talents. God, through His Holy Spirit, has placed these in His church. (I Corinthians 12:28) Are we not to encourage, generously, with all diligence, cheerfully, that which God bestows? (Romans 12:8) ” to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life,” (Titus 1:1-2)

Are we not to take the ministry of these gifts and talents out into our neighborhoods, our work places, our recreations? “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … So wherever you go, make disciples of all peoples:” (Matthew 28:19) Did not Jesus minister in the streets and in the hill sides and on the sea shore? Was not Jesus confronted with all of societies problems and the demons of the age? If so, why then should not we be, if we are of Christ as we profess, be likewise so confronted? We have Christ; why then would we be afraid?

One final question. It is Saturday evening, you have a family problem. Whom do you call? To whom do you turn for counsel?

“I can overcome all life’s demons, because no matter what I am confronted with, it’s not something that isn’t common to man and Jesus has already won the victory for me.”

No Works – Dead Faith

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CLTPqxGprL0#!

I was sent this youtube video on Faith without works by Geoff Thomas of sermon jam. It is excellent.

God’s Work In Litter

Many Christians, many Churches live self isolated from the reality of mission in their own neighborhood. Believers are ready to get involved in almost any activity that appears spiritual as long as it allows them to escape their responsibility to the Gospel. They will give to foodbanks, mission work to the homeless, mission work overseas, maybe even deliver hampers at Christmas; how many are willing to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to their neighbors?

Is that not the Great Commission, be the Good News to our neighbors? “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10: 29 in The Parable of the Good Samaritan. V 37, Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Near all Christians know The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis

Here’s a modern version for many today’s Christian:

I pray each eve that I might be
a channel for God’s might.
Dear Lord show where my burdens be,
My guide to put things right.

If I could mend one broken dream
Bring ease for one more pain.
Play my part in God’s great scheme
Help one soul for Christ to gain.

A hundred souls I’ll pass today,
each one begs to say hello.
I’ve been conformed to go my way,
and never take this chance to grow.

I know not this man with sad worn face,
This lady with her arms so full.
So I pass by and hold my place
in case rejection takes it’s toll.

I’ll admit, that is a little harsh. For most Chistians it is having the opportunity to witness which is lacking. Modern culture prevents us from foisting ourselves upon an unsuspecting public. We need a method of introduction. Being brave enough to go door-to-door is not a good option for most. The answer though, could be right before us, under our feet. It’s called Litter.

Litter is a problem in every community, in every neighborhood. I have found that in walking the neighborhood twice per week picking litter, I have become a familiar figure to many of my neighbors whom I would never have met otherwise. Most will give me a pleasant hello and many want to stop and chat. My neighbors have come to trust me. I am performing a civic duty. Over the past year, I have helped mothers with babies unload their cars, helped a man build a stairs, fixed the chain on a child’s bike, intervened twice in bullying situations and captured a runaway puppy. Twice I have been called to the ministry of consoling, to just be an ear or a comfort for one in distress. Through conversations with those I have met, two couples have joined our house church.

This is much the same with the other four “litter pickers” from our small church. Not to boast, but, 8 new souls for Christ to a congregation of 60 is a better average than most week long visiting evangelical crusades. Yes it takes time, and commitment but, is not that what we are called to do? Give our time and commitment for Christ. “Go ye out into all your neighborhoods and make disciples.”

Litter Picking is not only a support for the community, it can also be used as a Christ lead tool for evangelism. As one person said on a site for volunteering, “It’s (volunteering) a commitment to live/work/play/support/ and regrow our community not just as a “neighborhood” but to support our neighbors in compassionate ways as people.”

The major need for most Christians is training in relating the Gospel message. Being able to answer questions on God, Christ and Salvation.

Who is God?
Who is Jesus?
What is Salvation?
Why do I need to be saved?
Saved from what?
Why should I go to Church?
Why Baptism?
Etc., etc.

Every Church must have a continuing course in Evangelism, the fundamentals of Faith. Sadly, fundamentals are the most neglected part of most congregational teaching. Without the basics of Faith, how can we grow? How can we Evangelize?


Prayer of St. Francis image from: brenda-turner.tumblr.com

Compromise on Gay Issues Inevitable

Was a compromise on gay issues inevitable, even in most churches? Conservatives have not succeeded in the argument against accepting gay sex or tolerating gay marriage by mainstream culture. Canada has made the “rights” of homosexuals the official law of the land and the United States of America are doing the same, state by state, with little effective opposition. President Obama has made the Gay agenda a priority of his administration according to his inaugural address.

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Excerpts:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

Many church denominations have capitulated and now endorse the legitimacy of gays and lesbians and have given full rights of membership even to ordination into the priesthood. Orthodox Biblical teaching became lost as more and more clergy were entering the church through liberalized university studies instead of scripture based seminaries.

How long will it be before all churches will be prohibited from “anti gay” teaching by law and be forced into accepting the homosexual lifestyle and practice? This could easily be done by withholding tax exemption status from churches who do not conform to government regulations. Would the laity of most churches except holding out against the monitary impositions imposed on them? I have doubts that there are enough scripturally sound church congregations.

Most larger cities hold Gay Pride days in their communities each year. These events are a source of much needed income for many businesses in proximity to the events. Many of these businesses are owned or managed by Christians who welcome the increase in sales and business. There are some holdouts but, very few. Many a professing Christian will join in the festivities for a day of fun. This could be the sign of a change in Church / State relationship. Perhaps the trend for house churches will become the norm, who knows.

The main argument for the legitimacy of homosexuals is; “I was born this way”. I won’t and can’t argue with that because it is true. It is also true for peaodophiles, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, and alcoholics just to name a few “gene” based human traits. All persons were born into sin. “But, homosexual activity is between consenting adults and therefore is not hurting anybody.” Again, by law, that is true, but morally, a sin is still a sin. A lie is still a lie whether it is a whopper or just a consoling of oneself. Homosexual practice is contrary to God’s moral standard. God loves the gay or lesbian person, he just hates the practice of homosexual behavior. God even loves the peaodophile, the alcoholic, the kleptomaniac, the pyromaniac, the sexual predator, the murderer. God even loves you, – and me, as wretched as I am.

Thank you Jesus for being the propitiation for our sins.

A concern I have is that one day a “smart” lawyer in making a name for himself will take the arguments of the gay community and use the fact that peaodophiles should warrant the same rights as homosexuals. Since peaodophiles were born that way they cannot be held accountable for their “natural” or “God given” behaviors.


Photo Credit  – familysecuritymatters.org  I do not necessarily endorse this website for all content.

Greatest Book I Ever Lived

It has been often said of the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Read”. So very true.
Better for every Christian to make the Bible, “The Greatest Book I Ever Lived”.
Better yet; for the Church to say, “The Greatest Book We Ever Lived“.

For although Faith is personal, Faith can only be of value if demonstated in community within the whole of society.

James 2: 14-24 on Faith and Deeds:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

The Chistian life is one of action, a life of ‘Doing’. Doing What? Doing the will of God.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. …”

The action therefore is in doing the will, discovering the will of God  for our lives is the important factor. The verse goes on to say,

“… Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’”.

Just professing that we believe in Jesus is not enough. Jesus says we must do “the will of My Father in heaven”, if we expect to be with Him in Heaven. Our faith must be an obedient faith by doing the will of God if it is to be a saving faith; otherwise it is not a saving faith.

A Holy Experience

A Holy Experience

What Does a bit of Radical Christianity Really Look Like?

This was asked by Ann on her blog, “A Holy Experience” (Logo Right) and who goes on to say:
“The poor have made me rich and telling the stories of those who need a voice — has changed mine.”

She was relaying the story of Katie – kissesfromkatie.blogspot.ca

“Katie is with the dirty and lovely in Uganda — forsaking the American dream for God-sized dreams. .. everyday she simply wakes up and just says yes to what God gives her wherever she is ”

“Because all radical Christianity is first rooted in relationship Christianity — with Christ and His children. Right where we are.”

Matthew 28:16-20, The Great Commission

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.”

Jesus has spoken to His disciples, GO. Are we not all His disciples? Do we not all desire to be disciplined by Christ? To say yes is to be one who is committed to spreading the Word of salvation to all people. That can only be done by doing, doing in faith; doing because of our faith.

Because of our faith in the salvation that Christ bought for us, we are partakers of salvation and therefore doers of the Will of God. The main will of God being that all people worship Him in spirit and in truth. The second job, actually in conjunction with worship, is to love. Love who? Our neighbors. As James is saying in chapter 2, We show our faith by our deeds.

“observe all things whatever I have commanded you:”

The Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5-7), the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), and Parables make up the bulk of Jesus’ teachings for us to be advocates for.

First Jesus asked each of us to be fully ware of our limitations, put God then others first, and purify our hearts and minds.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught about: comforting, feeding, showing mercy, peacemaking, fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of widows, economic injustices, political corruption, morality, adultery, divorce.

Matthew 5: 16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Not only are we, the Christian Community, to be advocates, we must be seen for what we believe in. Involved, Active and Vocal.

Matthew 5: 24, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

For too long we have allowed secularism to steal God’s Thunder.

Step Out In Faith

Taking a Step

Words and music by Richard Tilley

Psalm 119:133, “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”
Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation.”
Thanks be to God we don’t have to be brave or bold on our own. Our strength is in the Lord.


Taking a step, going out,
Show the world that Jesus loves you,
Reflect the love of Jesus in your life
Taking a step, you must be brave,
To live the life Christ leads you,
Letting Jesus be the master of your life.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you;
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you;
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

Taking a step, you’ve been called
To be the Lord’s disciple.
Carry His Word to the world far and near.
Taking a step, walk in faith
as one of God’s own people;
The Lord has blessed your life
and now you hold Him dear.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

Taking a step, now go in peace
as one of God’s own chosen.
What God has bound, He will never part.
Taking a step, filled with love,
The Lord’s own joy your token.
He gave His life for you, give Him your heart.

You will be brave, for God will lead you;
You will be strong, for God will feed you;
You will be bold for God will never let you fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told you
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold you
Step out in faith as you answer Jesus call.

I will be brave, for God will lead me
I will be strong, for God will feed me;
I will be bold for God will never let me fall.
Step out in faith, the Lord has told me
Step out in faith, the Lord will hold me
Step out in faith as I answer Jesus call.

I have a MIDI file with the music. WordPress won’t allow me to place it on the page.
Leave your email and I will send it to you then cancel your reply so your email won’t be visible.
MIDI can be opened in a program called: Musescore – http://musescore.org/
The program allows printing in sheet music.
Best of all, it’s free.

Clean Fridge – Clean Faith

The proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” a common theme of the Bible although not a direct quotation.
We cleaned our fridge this morning, – so big deal, it’s a standard chore for every household.

After 3 months of collecting all the crumbs, drips and spills of everyday use, our fridge was a mess. What looked like dried milk or juice had become encrusted into shelf crevices after they became coated with crumbly bits of something. Could barely see through the glass shelving, the top of the shelves is self evident but, how stuff gets stuck to the underside –. The bottom crisper drawer we use for meats, if left any longer would have looked like a slaughterhouse floor. It is amazing how dried blood sticks to plastic. It takes a lot of soaking before coming loose.

Somehow, our regular cleaning plan had become disrupted. The fridge should have been cleaned at the end of November, but with an earlier snow that month and Christmas coming on and through December, things just got put off and fridge cleaning was one of them. We left this job to near the end of January knowing that the fridge would have the least contents at this time.

Just to empty out the fridge, where to put all the stuff. Got to realize how short of counter space there is in our kitchen. Some stuff that came out of the fridge, I don’t even remember when we last used that ingredient or that it was even in there. Surprising what can hide in plain sight. Was it worth keeping the dregs of the salad dressing? Who knew that hot-dog mustard separates in the container when not used since our last barbeque some 4 months ago or more?

The inside of the fridge is a chore in itself. Since the fridge is empty, why not pull it out and clean the back, sides and the floor underneath? Tell me, does the top of the fridge become everyone’s favorite utility shelf? There is no order to what is placed on this convenience. The box of Christmas cards we didn’t send. wrapping paper. scissors, pencil, scotch tape, 2011 calendar, ooh, so that’s were that bill got misplaced. A pair of gloves, container of brown sugar – and dust – yes dust. In winter?. Don’t you ever clean up here?

Now it is rather obvious that manufacturers don’t make fridges to roll forward. Wiggle, wiggle, jostle, jostle, back and forth until finally, get enough grip and leverage to yard the beast from its lair. OOH NO. How did all that crap and crud get under there? Why is it always a surprise? It’s the same old crap that was there last year when you pulled the fridge out.

Now that the fridge has been cleaned and some of the old contents have been turfed, everything gets put back in orderly fashion. It will stay that way through the weekend until Tuesday, pension cheque day which is the next time we get to cram that cooler with a fresh load of edibles.

I was contemplating on fridge cleaning. What is the lesson for cleaning out the dregs of secular society that get entangled into our walk with Christ? Especially over the Christmas season just past. All the trappings associated with ‘Xmas’, from Santa Claus, secular carols, compulsion to overspend, the busy-ness. All the decorations of the season are designed to distract us from Christ and celebrate the holiday instead. Too often we allow the “gods of Xmas” into our homes and lives. We all need a good cleaning out. How much have we unknowingly allowed our faith to become tarnished?

How many Christians found the Christmas season tiring rather than a rejuvenating of faith? Has Christmas left you exhausted, feeling like you’re going nowhere, out of routine, need to re-energize? Perhaps we all need a sabbatical. I know I do. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” The only one of the Ten Commandments that tells us to “Remember”. God knew His people will forget. Most of us even forget to take a day from our regular routines and we treat our Sabbath day as though it is just as any other. The pressures from society all too often don’t allow us to “Rest” in Christ so we can “cleanse our faith“.

Baptism – Not To Be Taken Lightly

Before I go on I want to say that this post is to clarify what I said about baptism in my previous blog post, Covenant: Signed, Sealed, Delivered; I’m Yours.

Many have described baptism as, “The outward sign of an inward grace”. Yes, that is true but—. The problem I have with this connection of the two is; the ‘Outward Sign’ of baptism is of our volition. The ‘Inward Grace’ is of God. Let us look at these in reverse order, actually, the proper order.

The Inward Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

It is at the Cross of Christ, Christ’s death and resurrection, where we were saved, when we were saved, not when we were immersed in or sprinkled with water. We were saved long before we turned to Christ in faith. That salvation, which is for the whole of the people on earth, is granted to us by the Grace of God. It is God’s most precious gift. What we care to do with that gift is up to each of us. It is the salvation earned for us by Christ that is the entry pass to the Kingdom of God and the receiving of the Holy Spirit that we may become part of God’s ‘Royal Priesthood’.

Christ’s death and resurrection is God’s guarantee of the covenant between Him and the people of His Kingdom to build up “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, see Exodus: 19:5,6.

Cross, Empty for Christ is Risen

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Colossians 2:12, “..having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Colossians 3:1-4, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

As Matthew-Henry Commentary says on Acts 2:38-39:

“This was the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out is it still insisted on: “Repent, repent; change your mind, change your way; admit an after-thought.’’ (2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; that is, “firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and submit to his grace and government; and make an open solemn profession of this, and come under an engagement to abide by it, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism; be proselyted to Christ and to his holy religion, and renounce your infidelity.”

Because God has bestowed upon us the most precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, our spirit felt realization of this blessed truth of the Grace of God brings us to repentance and as a sign that we accept His gift we commit to Him in the ordinance of baptism.

We make a statement in our baptism: “I was crucified and buried with Christ and raised up to newness of life.”

Does our act of baptism bring us the gift of salvation? No! It is in response to our salvation that we commit to being baptized.
Does our baptism bring us the gift of the Holy Spirit? No! We are infilled with the Spirit of God upon our acceptance of the gift of salvation, the obedience of Christ Jesus to death on the cross and his glorious resurrection.
God is one, undivided, all aspects of God, all benefits and gifts and ministries are combined into that single package, SALVATION.

So what is the purpose of the outward sign of baptism?

The physical act, the outward sign, of baptism is a public display testifying to all in attendance that, “I have accepted the salvation offered through Christ and am from this day forward I am a reformed person. I know the one true and living God and I promise that I will in every way be a reflection of Him. Go ahead world, – judge me according to His standard.”

I now live for Christ. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Gal. 6:14

How much more powerful a statement would the act of baptism be if baptism was performed in public instead of within the private confines of a church.

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